The Buddha’s Masterplan

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Beneath the sea of glistening stars,
Between the ethereal evening air,
Lies a forest of glowing dreams,
But as diverse and rich as they are,
None escape the same Moonbeam.

Under the lucent morning glow,
Roll waves of raving emotions,
Turbid fortunes and cruel woes,
The burning craving of billions,
Yet the same Sun illumes them all.

Princes, beggars and pretenders,
All dance their own tango with
Fortune’s jeering taunts and tantrums,
Each gambles to grapple with fate,
But upon the same soil they all tread.

The crown of a grand old oak
Casts a wide and mighty shadow,
Ruffling with a myriad of leaves,
Adorned by blooming blossoms
That sprout in spring and wither in winter,

With branches amber in autumn,
Green in summer, and lean and bare
In Saturn’s season of barren frost.
Yet for all its lush richness, it still rests
Upon one abiding unchanging trunk.

So even as human affairs steer here and there,
And wander and meander like wetland streams,
The timeless source remains the same,
For all ripe fruits return to Buddha’s root.

It is often asked why it is said that there are 84,000 different Dharma-doors (i.e. innumerable forms of Dharma). The answer is simple: Sentient beings are complex and have innumerable biases, different spiritual levels and varying aspirations.  Thus, it is not possible for one fixed form of teaching to suffice by itself. 

Therefore, the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas have not only spoken a rich collection of different Sutras, but have also manifested as the Sages and founders of different religions in order to teach those who could not yet accept the Buddha-dharma.

According to the Ven. Master Hsuan Hua:

“In Buddhism, he (Guanyin Bodhisattva) appears as a Bodhisattva; in other religions he often appears clad in white robes. In Christianity, he is the Holy Mother; he appears as the Holy Mother to teach and transform a certain category of beings. He appears in white robes and Christians call her Mother Mary, but actually she is Guanshiyin Bodhisattva manifesting in that form to inspire beings to bring forth a resolve that will lead them sooner or later to understand the Buddhadharma. Once they understand the Buddhadharma, they will bring forth the resolve for Bodhi. These are the endless miraculous functions and inconceivable states of Guanshiyin Bodhisattva.”

-Ven Master Hsuan Hua’s 1996 Lecture “Guanyin, Guanyin, Guanshiyin” (Translated by the BTTS).

Despite this rich varied diversity, the purpose is all the same: To promote virtue and eschew vice, which is the key (i.e. the Sila of the Threefold Training of Sila, Samadhi and Prajna) to eventually developing faith in the Buddha-dharma. For a more detailed analysis, please read my following Public Domain essay:

https://archive.org/details/ThePurposeOfMonotheismAndItsFuture

Thus, interfaith harmony is important, and no one should be caught up in conflict or strife over superficial differences, for all roads lead home.

However, even though all roads (religions) lead to the Buddha-dharma, all of the Buddha-dharma and every Sutra are united by Amita Buddha’s Pure Land School, the easiest and most wondrous Dharma door, cultivated by both the brilliant and base. The only practical way to Buddha-hood in our current Dharma-ending age.

For an introduction to Pure Land Buddhism, please read my Free and Public Domain translations of the The Buddha Speaks the Mahayana,Infinite Life, Adornment,Purity, Impartiality, and Enlightenment Sutra, and the Path to Pure Land prayer:

Public Domain PDF version of Prayer: path-to-pure-land

 

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Master Yin Guang, 13th Patriarch of the Pure Land School.

Lastly, as Sila (virtue) is the fertile soil that Samadhi and Wisdom spring from, the Great Master Yin Guang (1861-1940), the 13th Patriarch of the Pure Land School, strongly recommended the Taoist Treatise of the Illustrious Sage on Response and Retribution. It is a short and succinct moral tractate that details the workings of karma, and concurs fully with the Buddha’s teachings on the fruits of virtue and vice. In fact, Master Yin Guang printed more copies of this Treatise than all the Buddhist Sutras he printed combined. Thus, I entreat everyone to heed this Treatise. Daily recitation of it can eradicate evil karma, draw in blessings and create the foundational purity of heart needed to seek Pure Land rebirth.

Free and Public Domain translation available here:

Treatise of the Illustrious Sage on Response and Retribution (English Liturgy Version 2017 Edition)

Poem, all attached texts, and post released into Public Domain

Terza Rima Pure Land Poem

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We are mired in a dark quagmire
Of cruel and murky quicksand, 
We dance no more to Kama’s lyre,

And vow for the Western Pure Land,
The eternal dawn of blissful Bodhi!
Arising by Amida’s hand,

A place of serene Samadhi,
Mani Jewels and Way Places,
And the most soothing purity,

Golden roads and glowing palaces, 
Purple robes and rows of jade trees,
All wrought by His Great Promises!

Lotus ponds of lasting respite for you and me,
And for all who from sin and iniquity leave!

 

Poem and post released into Public Domain

Recommended Public Domain Resources:

Beagle Meets Amita

Archive.org Free Pdf version download

Last Rites of Amitabha

Archive.org Free Pdf version download

Twilight in Paradise: Eastern Version of the Inferno

Ode to Ven. Master Hai Xian (1901-2013)

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Ven. Master Hai Xian (1901-2013)

My riches are here: Old robes and alms bowl,
With these I free myself from worldly toil,
With these I sow and plough the Dharma field,
And shatter all that wicked Maras yield,

My will is here: In wisdom genuine,
With resolve to soar beyond the three realms,
And sail across the cruel seas of greed
To halcyon shores of blissful Bodhi,

My heart is here: Amongst Tathagatas,
Firm in the lotus pond of Amita,
Day and night, it is wise within the Way,
Never in dust nor adrift and away.

I strongly recommend everyone watch the following biographic documentary (English subtitles) of Master Hai Xian’s inspiring and amazing life of cultivation and Pure Land rebirth:

 

Recommended Resources:

Infinite Life Sutra Translation and Intro

Beagle Meets Amitabha

Poem, linked texts and post released into Public Domain

Lyrical Pure Land Hymn

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Seal: Cultivating the Sutras and Precepts is akin to a pauper entering paradise

O boundless the land
Built by Amida’s hand,
O splendrous the sky
Of his fair paradise,
A beauty to behold,
A wonder to enjoy,
An august afterlife
For the faithfully wise,

Gleaming with purple
And paved with gold,
Groves of lush trees
Of lapis lazuli leaves,
Sweet beryl berries,
And scented petals
Of agate and crystal,

A gleaming dominion
Of glowing pavilions,
Of lofty resplendence
And fragrant brilliance,
Pulling poor souls
Away from worldly woes
With a breeze of Bodhi
And blissful Samadhi!

All rights released into Public Domain

Note: If anyone is able, please adapt this poem with music. This poem has no copyright, so all may use it freely.

Recommended resources:

Infinite Life Sutra Translation and Intro

Beagle Meets Amitabha 

Epic Poem: The Odyssey of Dharmakara

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Calligraphy: Sincerity, Serenity, Fairness, Enlightenment and Benevolence 

This poem was inspired by the opening chapters of the Infinite Life Sutra, which outline Dharmakara’s (Amitabha) creation of the Western Land of Ultimate Bliss.

In a time before time began,
In a distant faraway land,
There reigned a wise sovereign
Most mighty and valiant,
Honored by many as the
World’s Bounty and Mercy.
Upon hearing the Dharma
Of Lokeshvararaja Buddha,
He melted into joyful repose
And cast aside desire’s shadow,
The fetters of the world’s cares,
And vowed to become the heir
Of the True and Utmost Way!
Thus, he abandoned his crown,
Robed himself a humble monk,
And marched forth upon the Way,
Cultivating through night and day
Until he became the renowned
Bodhisattva Dharmakara.
With profound wisdom peerless,
Faith and patience matchless,
He swiftly mastered the Dharma,
Rose far beyond the Samsara
And high above the snares of Mara.
In triumph, he sought the Buddha
And piously vowed and bowed before
Him, revering his great grandeur:

“The Buddha’s august demeanor
Is wondrous without compare,
His halo the ten quarters illume,
Bright beyond the luminous moon
And the lucent beams of high noon,
The World Honored One’s voice
Enlightens all beings to rejoice
Within the Dharma in native speech,
And he appears to all and each
In the body of their honored liege.
I yearn to emulate you and preach
Sermons of Dharma to everyone,
Without bounds like the shining sun,
To teach Sila, Samadhi and Viriya,
The profound and potent Dharma.
Wisdom as vast and deep as the sea,
Heart neither stained nor weary,
Gliding o’er oceans of sin and woe,
To the halcyon shores of Bodhi,
Untainted by gloomy wrath,
Unfettered by lustful avarice,
And blessed with serene Samadhi.
I shall follow the footsteps of the
Infinite Buddhas who precede me
And act as a great guiding light
For the masses, to be their sight,
Uprooting the temporal bequeath
Of birth, old age, illness and death,
Always generous and ever virtuous,
With diligence and eternal patience,
Forever within Samadhi and Prajna,
Faithfully abiding by the Six Paramitas,
Bestowing Bodhi upon the dull and lost,
And lifting Sages into the Buddha host!
As he who rains alms upon the Sangha
Is less than he who becomes a Buddha
Through single-minded faith,
I vow to in diligent Samadhi stay,
And glow brightly with everlasting light,
I shall build a splendrous paradise
Unrivaled across the universe entire,
To serve as a refuge of lasting respite
For those benighted in the Samsara!
With kindness I will shatter every klesha
Of every poor soul tortured by dukkha.
I shall not waver for I am determined
To shoulder every pain and burden,
So let the Buddha be my witness!”

After hearing Dharmakara’s great
And dauntless resolve and praise,
The Buddha arose from his Dais,
Gleaming with utmost admiration
For the one before him who is salvation
To the endless many lost in perdition.
He then declared:

“Your vows are not made in vain,
For even the oceans can be emptied
By but one who bails unceasingly,
And all its hidden pearls revealed,
What is there the sincere cannot attain?
I will show you the path and Way
To your glorious and imperious day!”

And so the Buddha parted the sky and
Revealed to Dharmakara every plane
Of rebirth, each and every Buddha Land,
All the galaxies, worlds and Sagely domains,
Revealing their cities, peaks, gorges and seas,
Their prairies, hills and fertile valleys,
The villas of devas dancing in divine weal,
The nature and condition of their peoples,
Unveiling their barren ghostly ruins, animal
Kingdoms and bleak narakas most infernal.
Uncovering all of their vices and virtues,
So that Dharmakara may with ease build
A pure and gilded land of wondrous bliss,
Free from evil and woe, a supreme harbor
Of every good found across the ten quarters.
The Buddha then said: “Pronounce your vows!”

“For the relief of all sentient beings,
Including those mired in the suffering
Of hellish, ghostly and beastly rebirth,
I have built a Pure Land of true mirth,
Open to all who are willing to share my
Merits and forfeit darkness for light!
I have paved for you fine gilded roads
Of precious stones, purple and gold,
For you I have filled rivers and lakes
With cool azure waters of soft ripples,
Swirling with fragrant flowers most graceful,
With beds of aurulent sand, and laid
Before you villas, pavilions and canopies,
Groves of beryl, emerald and agate trees
That ruffle and sway in the blissful breeze,
Adorned by jade leaves and scented petals,
Berries of Mani-jewels and crystal.
I give you clear skies and peerless paradise,
A glorious afterlife of endless delight,
With singing songbirds perched on amber arbors,
Humming hymns with lyrical harmony
And the most soothing of melodies!
I bless all who arrive in my land with
August, aurulent and ethereal bodies
Untainted by the greed, fear and foul odors
That flesh, desire and delusion harbors,
I bless thee with all the powers of Bodhi,
Its wisdom, eminence, bliss and glory,
Its serene Samadhi and tranquil purity!
Divine provision shall appear on demand
And so too the finery and robes of my land.
Any being who chants my Buddha-name,
Wholeheartedly abandons evil and repents
With faithful resolve, shall enter my domain
And rise to Sagehood upon the Lotus Lagoon.
I am Amitabha and my vows have come to pass!”

Upon hearing Amitabha’s august vows,
The entire assembly before him bowed,
Moved to joyous tears by his great resolve!
They beheld his unsurpassed compassion,
His merciful uprooting of all evil passions,
Granting each the chance to taste the Samadhi
Of the highest, most true and utmost Bodhi!
On this glorious and regal Dharma day,
The Earth shook in the six auspicious ways,
Gleaming gods and goddesses were seen
Gliding over the stars stroking harp-strings,
The ethereal heavens soon resounded with
Gilded notes of splendid divine bliss,
And the courts of the heavenly lords feted,
Raining down golden lilies like confetti!

Poem released into Public Domain

PDF download: the-odyssey-of-dharmakara

Archive.org Interactive Version

 

The Way to Pure Land

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Seal of the Infinite Life Buddha

The Way to Pure Land
Is well paved and straight,
Upon it gilded tiles are laid,
Adorned by halcyon lakes
And ponds of golden sand,
Shaded by ornate branches
Of silver, jade and crystal,
Whose sweet scented petals
Glide in the breeze and drift
Upon the waters—swirling
In graceful whirls and ripples,
Immersed in singing songbirds
Perched on amber arbors,
humming hymns of harmony
And the most soothing melody.

Inspiration:

Chapter 14-17 of Upasaka Xia’s Infinite life Sutra (highly recommended)

Free Printable Calligraphy Poster Version: way-to-pure-land-art-poster

Poem, poster and post released into Public Domain

Simplicity is Bliss- A Takeaway Formula

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Buddhism is really very simple, if only we could let it be. The Dharma is not so much about studying volumes of texts and scriptures, but of skillfully adapting and implementing the essence and formula into our small daily routines. Sila (virtue) leads to Samadhi (meditation and mental tranquility) which will eventually allow our innate Buddha-nature to shine forth (i.e. Prajna). This simple Threefold Training was taught by the Buddha as the underlying formula behind the entirety of his teachings.

The easiest way to accrue merits and cultivate is through sutra recitation. Once in the morning and once in the evening. By reciting sutras, we are practicing virtue as our mind, speech and body would be in accord with propriety. By reciting sutras, we are practicing Samadhi as our concentration is focused upon each single word, one after another. By reciting sutras, our minds are in accordance with profound wisdom. Thus, by sincerely cultivating sutra recitation, we are rectifying our minds, bodies and speech through the Threefold Training.

We can regularly recite any sutra, mantra or scripture we like. However, once we pick one, we should focus exclusively and unceasingly on it. I would personally recommend the eminent Upasaka Xia Lian Ju’s Path to Pure Land prayer. It is a simple, succinct and poetic text  filled with the most important and profound  passages from the  Larger Infinite Life Sutra, and combines prostration, recitation and Buddha-name chanting into one easy prayer that could be done in half an hour. The Venerable Master Chin Kung has even said that this consolidated prayer is the hope of humanity for thousands of years to come.

Here is my free and Public Domain translation:

PDF File Download:   path-to-pure-land

Scribe Version:

Moreover, I would like to recommend my three following Public Domain articles. The first one details how Confucius’ Eight Steps in the Great Learning is similar to the Buddha’s Threefold Training, and is not obscure like how many translations make it out to be but easily implemented by all.

Translation of a profound article outlining the secret meaning of Confucius’ Great Learning:

https://archive.org/details/TheSecretOfConfuciusGreatLearning

Essay on the profound connection between Buddhism and other religions:

https://archive.org/details/ThePurposeOfMonotheismAndItsFuture

Article showing how astute statecraft can help us live wiser and manage our karma:

https://archive.org/details/THEBODYISNOTYOUBUTYOUAREITSKINGTHEPARABLEOFLIFEANDKARMAASSTATECRAFT

Poem and post released into Public Domain

Poem Inspired by the Infinite Life Sutra

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Yearn for Bodhi for life’s a dream,
A dark fleeting phantom, and a
Shadowy hollow illusion,
Filled with nightmares of greed and fear,
Of Love and loss and scorching
Fires of burning ire and desire,
Of hard times that haunt and linger.
All dharmas are but dew and mist,
Ready to fade when the Sun of
Inner Wisdom shines and pours forth,
Revealing the blooming lotus
And the Seven Jeweled Lagoon
Of the Land of Ultimate Bliss.

Poem released into Public Domain

 

The Mahayana Infinite Life Adornment Purity Impartiality and Enlightenment Sutra

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Caption: Venerable Master Hai Xian (1901-2013)

Lotus Lagoon Assembly Prayer (蓮池讚)  :

There upon the Lotus Lagoon Assembly, Amita Tathagata sits atop the lofty Lotus Dais—flanked by Avalokitesvara and Mahasthamaprapta—inviting you to ascend the golden steps while pronouncing great vows ; resolute in leaving all defilements and dusts forever behind.

The Buddha spoke the Infinite Life Sutra several times during the course of his 49 year ministry. Thus, there were several translations of the Infinite Life Sutra in existence at the time of the modern era, the most popular being the Three Kingdoms Era Cao Wei (220-265) translation. During the 20th century, the eminent Upasaka Xia Lian Ju compiled the five main extant versions into a grand consolidated edition: The Mahayana, Infinite Life, Adornment, Purity, Impartiality and Enlightenment Sutra.

He did it without changing or discarding a single character! The eloquence and beauty of the prose and poetry found within is simply peerless. Thus, this version is now the official and most popular in use. However, there existed no English translation of Upasaka Xia’s  magnum opus until very recently. Below are two available translations I know:

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My free and Public Domain translation of key chapters with case study:

Essence of the Infinite life Sutra (translation of Ven. Master Chin Kung’s profound commentary on the Sutra by the AMTB):

https://archive.org/details/essenceinfinitelifesutra

Moreover, Upasaka Xia’s magnum opus was further endorsed by the Venerable Master Hai Xian (1901-2013), who attained verified Pure Land rebirth during the wee hours of Jan 17 2013. His most significant act before his Pure Land rebirth was to be pictured with a copy of If Buddhism is to Prosper, Practitioners Must Praise Each Other by Master Hong Lin (pictured above). An excellent book that decisively neutralized recent libel against Upasaka Xia’s magnum opus by using time honored principles of the proper Dharma.

Master Hai Xian’s life of cultivation is extraordinary and I recommend everyone watch his biographic documentary:

English subtitled biographic documentary

He has also been nominated by the Venerable Master Chin Kung as the 14th Patriarch of the Pure Land School, who praised that the example he has set with his life will influence the world for thousands of years to come!

Lastly, I would like to recommend again the Path to Pure Land prayer compiled by Upasaka Xia:

Pdf download:

path-to-pure-land

Scribd:

This profound and poetic work is the final teaching of Upasaka Xia and is highly praised by many esteemed masters such as Upasaka Huang Nien Tsu and Master Chin kung. The above translation is also free and in the Public Domain.

Namo Amitabha

For more free and Public Domain resources 

The Purpose of Buddha Images

If anyone is  wondering why Buddhists venerate Buddha images, please read my free public domain booklet (below) explaining the extensive Dharma behind Buddha images: